Lawyer shoots himself after standoff
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Police believe a Charleston attorney shot himself near the end of a three-hour standoff with officers Monday morning outside his Cornwall Lane home.
Charleston Police Chief Brent Webster said Mark Bramble told paramedics as he was being taken to the hospital that he shot himself in the head with a handgun before officers forced their way into his home.
Bramble was undergoing surgery Monday afternoon, but was expected to live, Webster said at a news conference.
Police, including SWAT teams and bomb squad members, went to Bramble's house at about 9:15 a.m. Monday after his wife called 911 to report that Bramble was upset and shooting guns. Bramble's wife was able to safely leave the home, Webster said.
Webster said Bramble had multiple weapons in the home just off Corridor G in the Sherwood Forest area.
Bramble worked in the Workers' Compensation Division at the state attorney general's office. In a statement Monday afternoon, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said Bramble was an attorney in his office's Workers' Compensation Division. Morrisey said that Bramble had turned in his resignation letter Friday, and it was supposed to take effect Aug. 30.
Morrisey said he was "deeply saddened" by today's reports about Bramble.
"We are relieved that no one in his family or neighborhood was injured and that all members of the law enforcement community are safe," Morrisey said. "As you know, details about this incident are still murky, and police are in the process of conducting a thorough investigation."
Bramble was hired June 1 of last year, Morrisey said. That would mean he was hired under Morrisey's predecessor, Darrell McGraw.
Webster said Bramble fired multiple volleys while inside the house. He said the first police officers on the scene tried to talk to Bramble, but were met with a fusillade of gunfire every time they tried.
Bramble fired both inside the house and out the windows at police officers, the police chief said.
"He knew who we were," Webster said. "We identified ourselves several times. And he saw us."
At one point, Webster said, Bramble broke out a window and pointed a long gun at police. Webster said one officer returned fire with an AR-15 rifle, but does not know if he hit Bramble.
"It looks like some, if not all, of his injuries are self-inflicted," Webster said.
Bramble's wife told police Bramble had been upset the past few days, but Webster didn't know exactly why or whether the information was relevant to the shooting incident. "It's very early in the investigation," the police chief said.
In January 2000, Bramble's 2-year-old son was killed. James Robert Montgomery Jr. was suspected in the death, but was never charged with the toddler's killing. Bramble was admonished by the state Lawyer Disciplinary Board for posing as a defense attorney for Montgomery in an attempt to gain custody of his then 4-year-old daughter.
At the time, prosecutors said Bramble's stunt may have compromised their investigation into the young boy's death.
Montgomery was later convicted on unrelated charges in Georgia.
Neighbors of Bramble said he might have been upset by news that Montgomery had been released from prison, but Charleston Police Chief Detective Lt. Steve Cooper said police believe Montgomery is still in jail.
Thomas White, who lives just down the street from Bramble, said his wife was driving by the house just as Bramble's wife was running out. Bramble was shooting at the time, White said.
White said his wife called him and told him to stay inside.
"I was literally barricaded in the house with a gun," said White, 40. "We thought he was outside shooting."
Traffic on Corridor G was blocked from turning into Sherwood Forest throughout the morning. Part of nearby Smith Road was also closed, and students were told to stay inside at nearby Kenna Elementary.
Webster said Bramble allegedly fired several barrages of gunfire before the shooting eventually quieted down. Officers then sent a Kanawha County Sheriff's Department robot into the house and discovered Bramble lying on the floor in a back room, wounded. He said they then decided to force their way into the home.
Bramble was finally taken into custody about 11:45 a.m.
Those who lived in the neighborhood were unable to return to their homes during the standoff. Ann Hamm, who has lived in Sherwood Forest for 37 years, said she was coming back from an exercise session when she found the road blocked.
Hamm said Sherwood Forest is a nice neighborhood. "People are friendly," she said.
"It's a safe place for kids. Of course, in today's world you never know what's going to happen."
Reach Rusty Marks at email@example.com or 304-348-1215.